It was supposed to be the day where the Lord's pitch dominated the discussions rather than the Cricket being played on it, and everything was going just as the script suggested, but then, England's infamous top-order discovered its inner profligacy, only to gift wickets away to Australia in what was an hour filled with sheer madness, which surely left Trevor Bayliss, his sunglasses, and the hat in a spot of a gigantor-sized bother.
You would wonder, "how and what" did England actually do to be four down on a surface as good as a road. The pitch had quickened a bit - yes, but still terrible to bowl on, as Ian Botham pointed out post his assessment and when Botham says it's terrible, the case indeed is so. Came eventide, England knew they had been mindless, imbecilic, stupid and horrendous and as anyone would say, left needing a miracle to save it from hereon. Tak
Things should have shaped up differently for England, especially when you roll back an hour or two, and see how easy batting looked when Australia had the willow in hand, never really appearing to be troubled from the very start till the declaration came, caressing away the bad deliveries, and rotating the strike as often as you would like.
Wickets were always tumbling at regular intervals for Australia once Stuart Broad - who finished with 4/83 - removed Chris Rogers for 173, but Steven Smith, unscathed as he was, continued to motor along reaching his double hundred later in the afternoon. Joe Root somehow removed his opposite number, and an hour later, the declaration came at 566.
Just as the English passport holders at the Lord's Cricket Ground started to heave a sigh of relief now that they expected England to dig deep, the home side self-destructed within an hour. Adam Lyth was the first of them all, passing away to a nothing delivery from Mitchell Starc.
Soon after, Gary Ballance and Ian Bell were both cleaned up by Mitchell Johnson and Josh Hazlewood respectively, both reaping rewards for some abhorrent bit of batting. The most disastrous of them all was Joe Root's dismissal, a typical example of a gratuitous act of aggression as the Yorkshireman flashed at a harmless delivery to make it 30/4.
Regardless of England's top order's horror show today, Australia deserve praise anyway for not messing things about to firstly pile up a huge total - which heaped scoreboard pressure onto England - and then bowling it right where it should be with pace, hence giving themselves the best chance of picking up wickets. They were helped by England, but that doesn't lessen the extent of the brilliance they displayed.
England were 85/4 with Alastair Cook (21)* and Ben Stokes (38)* still fighting, leaving the ground in utter despair, but with hopes of a recovery still not buried.